In the fall of 1774, John Chapman, the man who would become known as Johnny Appleseed, was born in Leominister, Massachusetts. He may not have been the man of legend, but his is a remarkable story nonetheless. Laurie Lawlor uses land records, census data, and local histories to recount his post-Revolutionary War efforts to plant and grow apple trees throughout the territories, a goal that would become his life’s work.
Reviews and Comments
“Lawlor’s clear narrative style and impeccable scholarship combine to make this biography of John Chapman an outstanding choice. In four short chapters, her subject’s adventures, the exciting period of frontier expansion during which he lived, and the northern area of the country through which he traveled come alive. Discounting the folktales of Johnny Appleseed’s extraordinary feats of strength and survival and his eccentricities, the author cites instead his business acumen, his fondness for children and books, his friendly co-existence with several tribes of Native Americans, and his zeal in spreading the ideas of Emmanuel Swedenborg (e.g., “every person must be a help to others in need”). Illustrations are 19th-century woodcuts and wood engravings, along with several created especially for this book. This attractive title belongs in every collection.” (School Library Journal)
“Best known as an American folklore hero, Johnny Appleseed was a real person named John Chapman. When Chapman turned 21, his restless but courageous spirit enabled him to leave his family and travel hundreds of miles throughout the Midwestern frontier, planting apple seeds and cultivating apple tree nurseries. This well-researched biography provides in-depth insight into Chapman’s character, details his extensive travels (which lasted more than 50 years), outlines his contributions to American horticulture, and offers possible reasons for his legendary status. Original wood engravings and nineteenth-century woodcuts enhance an informative, readable book that will be useful for assignments, and will also be enjoyed by readers who want to learn more about this real-life hero. Further reading; extensive bibliography.” (Booklist)
“More legends than facts are generally known about Johnny Appleseed. This book begins with the birth of John Chapman and gives the facts about this American hero. He led a fascinating life and experienced first-hand the birth and westward movement of our country. An excellent biography for children.” (Parent’s Council)
written by Laurie Lawlor
illustrated by Mary Thompson
Albert Whitman, 1995
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